When I started playing with the Koreans I ended up highly enjoying my games because of the fun this civilization gave me while playing, back in the old days of Age of Empires II: The Conquerors.
I started reading some things on gaming boards, found out some tricks and nice combinations of Korean units, started developing my own strategies and perfecting my playstyle and this awesome civilization quickly rose to become my favorite civilization from Age of Empires II!
Read on to discover strategies and tips for when playing the Koreans, a hard civilization to play with, but one that gives so much fun and satisfactions, while being able to make the lives of your enemies real hells!
Tower and Naval Civilization
Villagers +3 line of sight
This is a great asset for the Koreans as their game start isn't the best. Korean villagers will be able to spot enemy villagers from afar, trying to build towers near your resources.
Stone miners work 20% faster
The Koreans have a big focus on towers and tower technology, so this ability provides the civ with the necessary early resources to start building towers to protect your mines or hassle enemy villagers by building them near their resources.
Tower upgrades free
To complement the Koreans' ability to start building towers soon, their tower upgrades are free of charge! This means greater range and damage potential as soon as you advance to a new age. This upgrade includes the Bombard Tower research!
Tower range +1 Castle, +2 Imperial Age
Another useful unique trait for the Koreans. In addition to the ability of being able to build towers early on thanks to a higher rate of stone income and upgrading them with no costs, you have the bonus of augmenting your towers range by 1 in Castle Age, and 1 more in Imperial Age, making it for a total of 10 range!
This is passive so you can count with the extra range as soon as you advance ages. With the Blacksmith upgrades, the Korean tower has a total of 13 range, outranging pretty much any mobile unit the game! With the only exception being the deadly bombard cannon of the Turks.
"The Korean kingdom of Koryo was often under attack from all sides - by China, by barbarian civilizations to the north like the Mongols, and by sea raiders. To survive, they needed a strong military. We have hints from scant records that the Koryo were innovative warriors, perhaps being the first to use rockets in combat and carriages of some type. Trains of these wagons could be arranged into temporary fortifications in open areas, providing a mobile, yet substantial, defensive position against mounted enemies. So became the war wagon, a classic chariot with scythed blades and mobile forts from which archers could fire with some protection."
The War Wagon which counts as cavalry archer, feels more like a toughened up Scorpion! The power of this ranged unit is insane, with the Elite War Wagon having 200 hit point, 9 piercing attack, 4 piercing armour and 5 range! If created in numbers this can become a complicated task for your enemies to deal with. You need to protect them, though, as they are expensive units.
The main strength of the war wagons come from their combination of range and endurance, so not only do they deal great damage on charging armies, but they can also resist their hits while killing the remnants. The weakness of the War Wagon lies in its poor defense, so be prepared to defend your wagons against charging cavalry and infantry.
War wagons have all the weaknesses a cavalry archer unit would have, but at the same time, the Koreans can defend against all those counters aiming for your wagons. You just need to coordinate your armies and know your enemy. Be prepared for paladins, camels or elephants with plenty of halberdiers. Welcome enemy halberdiers or huskarls- the Goths' unique unit, with champions or hand cannoneers. Counter enemy siege with your own siege.
Unique Naval Unit
"Under attack by samurai Japan in 1592, the fate of Korea and perhaps China depended on breaking the invader's supply lines at sea across the Straits of Korea. Korean admiral Yi Sun-Shin won two great naval victories off southern Korea with the aid of Turtle Ships, the first armored warships in history. These oar-powered ships had a low profile and mounted a battery of cannons on their broadside. Their sides and top were rounded and shaped like a flat turtle shell. They were not well suited for use on the high sea but quite useful in coastal waters where waters were relatively calm. The Japanese ships were at a great disadvantage in combat against them. Most missile fire glanced off their rounded armor. They offered no openings for enemy boarding parties. Unarmored enemy ships were quickly disabled by their cannons."
The Turtle Ship is the Korean way of dominating the seas! This behemoth of a ship has an astounding 50 attack power and its elite upgrade gives it huge defenses. The Turtle Ship is an specialist in sinking other ships and its greatest advantage when playing water maps, is that it can be created during the Castle Age before cannon galleons! This means that you can create a few as soon as you hit that age and take control of naval battles.
The weaknesses of the Turtle Ship are its slow speed, short range and the fact that it is very expensive, so you can't make numbers of them and expect to maintain your economy, or use it as a Cannon Galleon to clear out the coast. You can, however, use them to clear out docks and back up your armies in river maps. The best way to counter these is to outnumber them with fire ships or try to hit them with cannon galleons. The Spanish cannon galleons are especially good against turtle ships (or any other ship for that matter).
"Although the Chinese are credited with the invention of gunpowder, many believe it was the Korean kingdom of Koryo that first employed rocketry and perhaps gunpowder as some sort of weapon. The chroniclers of this period mention Koryo rockets and cannons as being very important to the success of their armies. The long existence of the Koryo and Choson kingdoms required a strong military because only the sea and the Amnok River stood between them and a host of potential enemies."
Together with the Koreans' team bonus, Shinkichon- which gives onagers +1 in range, makes the Korean fully upgraded siege onagers have a total of 11 range! When raiding towns, this onager can outrange town centers and even towers and castles that have yet to research all their upgrades, as the maximum range for these structures is 11 as well.
The Korean Siege Onager is also a fantastic addition to an army of war wagons, making sure to get rid of enemy archers, hand cannoneers and other siege units. Be careful with friendly fire, though! This cumbersome combination can prove to be difficult to maneuver.
Mangonels and Onagers +1 range
When put to good use, onagers can send chaos to your enemy armies. Not only does this team bonus complement the Koreans well together with their unique tech, but it is also a great addition to any civilization using onagers.
Great team members for the Koreans include the Celts and the Mongols. The Celts provide a fantastic +20% speed for the production of Siege Workshop units, while the Koreans' bonus gives their already impressive siege weapons +1 range. The Mongols' fast-moving onagers become even deadlier with the added range, while they provide Scouts with +2 line of sight.
The Koreans are full of tricks
The combination of the Korean bombard towers, war wagons and siege onagers make them a civilization to be reckoned with. However, they have more that they can add to those to make an even deadlier force.
Champions and Halberdiers
Although lacking Blast Furnace, the Blacksmith upgrade that gives +2 attack to infantry and cavalry, a mix of champions and halberdiers is important in the ranks of the war wagons and siege units. Depending on the occasion, you may be faced with enemies trying to breach with camels, paladins, halberdiers or other unique units. You also need to start creating these from the start of the game, if you don't want to build towers to protect yourself from rushes at the start.
Perfect Hand Cannoneers
As an alternative, the Koreans have fully upgradable hand cannoneers at their disposal, meaning that they have an extra ranged threat to aid the wagons. I highly recommend hand cannoneers in this case, as they best most of the War Wagon counters, especially if your enemy isn't the Persians or the Franks. This way, you could disregard halberdiers completely, as the hand cannoneers' raw firepower allied with bombard towers, wagons and siege can cover almost anything.
I left the best for last. You still need a unit to take down those castles and towers that your onagers can't hit. To keep your army mobile, add 5 or 6 bombard cannons to it, and you've got yourself a formidable force that can wreck havoc through any obstacle that comes forth!
Playing with the Koreans isn't easy and dealing with them is even harder. There is definitely a learning curve for both sides. However, if there is one thing to take into account when playing against a Koreans player, is that the variety of units he is going to use will probably be huge. Don't expect only war wagons or a tower spam (it can happen). Diversify your ranks as well and level up your chances.
A strategy against the Koreans is to win in the early game, before they have time to build strong defenses and insane armies. The Huns can destroy them by going through ages first and send a horde of Tarkan to destroy the towers and kill any type of resistance. The Chinese can prove to be lethal with early numbers of long-swordsmen and pikemen as well. The Turks are a great threat for the late game, as their bombard towers, bombard cannons and janissaries are simply civ killers.
In my opinion, the Koreans rank among the "big three" civilizations of Age of Empires II. The other two are the Turks and the Celts. The large array of options this civilization has, together with the incredible defenses it can muster, make it a pain to endure for any player of any civilization, and a joy for me and you to use in the long game.
If you liked this article, read my 10 of the Best Civilizations from Age of Empires II: The Conquerors for more great civilizations!